Jenson Button has reflected on a tough Friday for McLaren in Malaysia following practice for this weekend’s race at the Sepang International Circuit.
The British driver finished fourth in FP1 and eighth in FP2 on Friday, but he is far from encouraged by the long-run pace of his McLaren in the hot and humid conditions.
“We’re finding it tough out there today, especially in the heat,” Button conceded. “We’re not as strong as we’d like to be in high-speed corners, and when you have downforce issues, they’re further amplified by the hot weather. So our long runs were tricky in terms of both tyre degradation and outright pace.”
McLaren is sporting a new nose on both of its cars this weekend, with a design more akin to the appendage that Toro Rosso has been sporting in 2014. Although Button is pleased by the effect this upgrade has had on the MP4-29, he is still unconvinced by the race pace of the car.
“We’re now going through the data, but the upgrades we brought here seem to be giving us something, so that’s encouraging, but there’s a lot of work still to be done,” he said.
“I’m sure people are getting excited about individual lap-times, but they don’t count for too much around here because you can usually overtake. It’s the long runs that you need to analyse, and that’s where we’re finding it a bit more difficult.”
Having scored his 50th podium finish of his Formula 1 career in Australia following Daniel Ricciardo’s disqualification, Button will be hoping to continue this good for in Malaysia. However, the heat may not be as much of a problem on race day if rain does hit the track, and this is a serious possibility given that the grand prix is held during monsoon season.
Teammate Kevin Magnussen matched Button’s pace throughout practice, but the Dane’s car did break down momentarily during the first session on Friday afternoon.